In April proposed a Bill in Parliament to remove the automatic parental right of men who have fathered a child through rape and to establish an inquiry into the treatment of abuse victims in the family courts.
This Bill was borne out of my work with Sammy Woodhouse to increase protections for victims of abuse and follows evidence that the family courts have granted abusive and violent parents unsupervised contact with children.
The Government has now announced that it will hold a review of the family courts but it is deeply disappointing that the panel will not include survivors of abuse. The review also cannot be described as independent as it will be chaired by representatives from the Ministry of Justice.
The Women’s Aid charity will be on the panel but, without the voices of survivors themselves, it does not have enough representation from those who have first-hand experience of grappling with the the family court system.
I’ll continue to push for a thorough, independent inquiry with a representative panel because, if we are to get to grips with the problems in the family courts, the voices of survivors must be heard.